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Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007

Asa in top form at New Year

Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu forced out compatriot Hakuho on Wednesday to maintain the lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

Asashoryu got both hands on Hakuho's belt and lifted the ozeki up and over the straw ridge in the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan to improve to 10-1 in the 15-day tourney. Hakuho, who needs a winning record to maintain his ozeki status, dropped to 7-4.

Asashoryu is bidding for his 20th Emperor's Cup and holds a one-win lead over rank-and-filer Toyonoshima, who kept pace with a win over Kasugao.

Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu put a huge dent in Chiyotaikai's title hopes when he used an arm throw at the edge of the ring to send the ozeki sprawling to the dirt surface. Both wrestlers stand at 8-3.

Mongolian Kyokutenho forced out Tochiazuma to improve to 6-5 while handing the ozeki grappler his seventh loss against four wins.

Ozeki Kaio improved to 6-5 when he spun Russian Roho around after the faceoff and shoved the struggling Komusubi out in a matter of seconds. Roho, who has struggled mightily in this tournament, was handed his eighth loss against only three wins.

In an earlier bout, No. 9 maegashira Toyonoshima stayed in contention when he upended seventh-ranked maegashira Kasugao to improve to 9-2. Kasugao dropped to 5-6.

Sekiwake Kotomitsuki returned to winning form when he overpowered Mongolian Ama to pick up his sixth win.

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